Helvetinjärvi National Park, Ruovesi, Finland

Once again, Pekka, the 24 years old Finish geophysics student/packrafting/hiking enthusiast, is contributing to the European scene. This time with an area description from his backyard, the Helvetinjärvi National Park in Ruovesi, Finland. The same report can be found in Finnish language on his own Blog Reppulautta. Enjoy the guest post and thanks Pekka!

Helvetinjärvi National Park

There are plenty of lakes that are formed in deep gorges and a nice 10km Haukkajoki river that flows through the forest.

If you want to get the most out of this route, make sure you have 4-5 days to spare. The route is also very easy (if not easiest) to travel by using public transport to get in place. It starts in the bus stop of Ruovesi town, where you have to hike roughly one kilometer of asphalt road before getting to the nearest forest path. Several paths run through the forest and they are the most pleasant way to get to the southern point of lake Kovero. Kovero and the adjacent lakes are located in one deep tectonic chasm that runs through the whole national park.

A small creek starting from the northwest tip of the lake connects Kovero and the next lake Luoma together. The whole waterway is not passable, but it's nice anyway. At Luoma there's a camping area and cooking shelter. After Luoma there's a shortcut using roads to get to lake Haukkajärvi where river Haukkajoki starts but the gorges at Iso Helvetinjärvi are really worth seeing.

Haukkajoki river is a serene float in the woods. There are a few class I rapids and one class I+ depending on water level. The river is at it's best during floods of after heavy autumn rains, although not bad at normal flow too. After the river you can either hike to west to get to a bus stop or continue south through several lakes and another small river (Karjulanjoki) after another 10km of paddling. After arriving to road number 337 there won't be much to see any more. You may either hike or hitch-hike to village of Kuru to get to bus. 

More information: www.outdoors.fi/helvetinjarvi


Alternate (European) Scene

Some time ago, we questioned about a European Scene. Obviously it caught on. But what about Packrafting in general. Where does it go? Before having some hints, Business as usual first:

Steve and Katrjn are in full flow. Southern Summer, two in one boat. Patagonian Dreams!

Joery reflects on his summer expedition in a real talk. Mark Feb 24th! If you can make it to Bruges/Belgium, you will not be disappointed.

There is rumours Willem got more boats than he can use himself. What he is about to do with them will follow here soon. 

Birgit's biking blog is turning into boating one, after discovering her Christmas present. As the only one in a Packraft, here POV (Point of view) shows more kayaker, but she writes (in German) about here own perspective in the new boat.

Edit 08.02. Welcome Pekka to the Blogosphere! Appreciated to have another native language (Finnish) covering the packrafting theme!

It is boating. Period.
This might continue being the style given the capability of the boats. And I must admit, I 've lately been using my Packraft more as a WW fun boat too. See the latest Winter paddling. Little hiking involved. Which is no dogma of course. 

We will probably see more of this in the course of 2013. The upcoming Orca will only fuel this and even multiday adventure on the water can handle it,  thanks to the Cargo fly (there is a bunch on the way to Europe btw).

On the other hand there is people, who truely live the pack and raft philosophy.

This rather qualifies as "IK hauling", but the Lithuanians already did in 2011 some serious whitewater (50km) an though hiking (80 km) with their Inflatable Kayaks (IK). 

A likewise encounter with sacrifies on durability, rather then weight (in contrast to the above), is an undertaking by the Brits in Mongolia with there "Quasi-Packrafts", out of production semi-durable inflatables.

The question might raise again, what actutally is a Packraft? Maybe Marius can help cross-referencing in his Blog during the latest "Ultralight" debate over in the hiking community:

Packs real small? 
"Instead of saying: „I like to go on trips with my inflatable raft, which also packs really small and therefore can easily be carried in a backpack“, you just say: „I like to go packrafting.“ and instantly anybody who knows what packrafting is will know what you're talking about. If not, you can still explain to him."

Well, maybe full inflation is not all. See the latest spring off from the UL-Forums Marius is part of. Sort of a UL-Kayak, reaching 4,5kg and packing quite small. Erik built this as a MYOG project. This is actually closer to the Packrafting-Concept than any other lightweight folding kayak.

Erik's UL Kayak

Do numbers help? To a certain extend yes. We set the bar at 4 kg. As you see above, that does not have to stop you to go "packrafting".

But like Martin put it in "We are all backpacker in the end": 

Its is often boating, no more. That's what to be learned. Read the water, know boats characteristics and apply manoevers on the river. That is what Ryan is talking about with 'LearnToPackraft' mainly, I guess. 10 days to go in the Kickstart campaign at BPL!

You can go packrafting with whatever you find appropriate, from a Lilo to big Raft. A packraft however is specifically designed for that purpose with variation in river capability.

You can use a packraft for what ever you find appropriate, from roadside waterfull hucking to bathtubing. Packrafting however IS the combination with activities that involve packing and transport.

Supai's Flat water canyon II
So is the approach with Supai's Flatwater Canyon II. This 'Supralightboat' has its place among Packrafters with an emphasis on hiking. At 680g and the packing size of a bottle it is the company for canyoneering, geocaching, spelunking and any flat water in between. 

This would come as an equivalent of about +300€ (with tax/customs etc) in Europe. It is  stocked here.

We like the concept and we are keen to try it out! Maybe in combination with a drysuit. There is some real amphibious ventures to be imagined. Lots of in and out of the water. ODS Review (DE).